Geology of the Galapagos Islands

by Jisenia
(New Jersey)

What are the Geological Origins of the Galapagos Islands? and How Old are they?

Your Answer


The Galapagos Islands originated with the geology activity of a hot spot, which turned this place into one of the most attractive locations on the world.

The Galapagos follow a chain pattern where the older Islands are found in the East, while the younger Islands are found in the West.

This very simple feature is responsible for the unique development of Galapagos Islans' Flora and fauna, the rates of erosion, the frequency of volcanic eruptions, and of course, the rates of colonization.

Hot Spots are responsible for the formation of Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, and other Island chains.

In the geology of Galapagos we see that this Hot Spot is currently located beneath the northwestern region of the Galapagos Archipelago near Fernandina and Isabela Islands.

The width of the hot spot is estimated to be approximately 100 miles.

Since the Galapagos Islands are moving with the Nazca plate and the hot spot remains stationary, the Islands form and slowly drift away from the hot spot, at about 5 cm per year, allowing more volcanoes and Islands to be formed.

Also the Galapagos Islands move with the Nazca Plate in an east-southeast direction so the older Islands are found in the southeast.

The newly forming Islands are located in the northwest. Since all of the volcanoes are formed underwater, the material forming them builds and accumulates as it spreads out like a sand hill.

This process creates the Islands in the form of a volcano with gentle sloping sides and a central vent.

The Hot Spot Theory is one way of explaining, not only why change rules in oceanic Islands, but also how wildlife has adapted to the different Islands that make up this ever-changing land.

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